Dozens sign up to support town’s first book festival

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Organisers of the first Berwick Literary Festival say they are delighted with the turnout at a supporters’ event held at the Guildhall.

The Patrons’ Event was held to ask people to become one of the founding supporters of the festival, which takes place on October 17-18 this year.

The weekend will include talks and workshops by nationally-acclaimed, award-winning writers.

They include internationally-renowned author-illustrator couple Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom, whose works have seen them nominated for the Carnegie Medal and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and children’s book illustrator Helen Stephens, whose How To Hide a Lion was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Children’s writer Bea Davenport, whose novel The Serpent House was published in June and was inspired by local history, is also in the line-up, along with historical novelist Margaret Skea whose Turn of the Tide won this year’s Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author and Barbara Morris, whose novel One Missed Step was shortlisted for the People’s Prize.

The exciting programme has a number of other well-known local names, including football writer Tom Maxwell, Cara Lockhart Smith and Jenny Doherty of Serafina Press.

The Guildhall was packed on Thursday evening with keen readers and writers who heard an address by the Mayor Isabel Hunter. Dozens signed up to become founding patrons of the event, broadening the membership base and providing the extra funding needed.

Chairman of the steering committee Christopher Smith said: “We were overwhelmed by the turn out and delighted by how many people pledged £25 to become our first patrons.

“We are always looking out for more supporters, so anyone who would like to help should contact Catherine Handley on .

“Berwick has a wealth of literary and artistic talent and it is right to celebrate this. We hope everyone in the town will back this exciting event.”

Initial plans by the Berwick Events Group to hold a book festival were shelved in February but several members of the community and town councillors remained keen on the idea.

It was decided to go ahead with some sort of book festival - however modest - in 2014 and a new ‘stand alone’ charitable organisation was formed.

It received a grant of £2,500 from Berwick Town Council’s events committee last month.

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